As I was waiting to finally be awarded my hard-earned diploma from RIT Croatia, I felt a rush of emotions. I could not believe that I was completing such a large milestone in my life, and that I had my family, friends and colleagues there to celebrate it with me. As I looked around me, I knew that I was not the only one having this mixed sense of excitement, nervousness and relief either. Seeing each face that is now part of the Class of 2018, I had remembered that we had been on this journey together since the very first day of school freshman year. Not in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that we would all become a family that would learn to motivate, encourage and inspire one another during this four-year undergraduate experience.
RIT Croatia community: strong relationships that continue to grow
Our undergraduate careers at RIT Croatia have truly been filled with experiences and memories that have allowed us to pave a successful path to our future. Not only did we receive a diploma to give our academic achievements a tangible effect, but we were also given life-long friendships. Having a smaller and more unified student body at RIT Croatia permitted us the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level. Often times, graduation day can be a sad day because it symbolizes change and a closing of a chapter in life.
But I knew that these strong relationships with my peers would only grow over time and that we were all actually just beginning a new chapter of our lives together just as we did when we all met on the first day of school four years ago.
Since home for me is 4,773 miles away in Chicago, IL, USA, I feel truly blessed to have had my grandparents travel that long way to celebrate my great achievement. There truly was not a more joyous moment throughout the entire day, than seeing their faces light up as I walked back to my seat, diploma in hand. To have my loved ones travel a great distance to be by my side and support me after these past four years, made me realize what a large accomplishment this really was. It seemed at some points that it was all dream.
When deciding to enroll in RIT Croatia, the biggest barrier for me was how I would be able to overcome the great distance between my family and I. Now, when I look back at my time here, I feel confident that I would not have done anything differently. Each and every colleague, professor and staff member made my time on campus warm and exciting. They made that feeling of being so far away vanish without me even noticing.
Walking the stage: sharing that beautiful moment with most important people in my life
Just a few minutes before entering the banquet hall, all of us students were gathered in a cozy room reminiscing on the obstacles we faced, exciting memories made together and our future plans. Eventually, we lined up one behind the other and were all preparing for our shining moment. Once we entered the room, the joy that crossed our parents, friends, professors and administrator’s faces made these past four years’ worth all the hard work. As I heard moving, motivational speeches given by RIT Croatia’s Dean, Don Hudspeth, and our valedictorian, Daniela Kunej, amongst many more, it made me realize that the few years that we spent together made us who we are today. Then finally, it was time to receive our diplomas. As my name was called, I walked towards the dean to receive my diploma and was congratulated by every professor and faculty member that had saw me through to my success. At that moment, I realized I how lucky and honored I was to have had such brilliant and successful people impact me during my education.
I would like to speak on behalf of my fellow colleagues and say that there are not many words to describe this exciting and momentous time in our lives. It is truly a privilege receiving an education at RIT, and now it brings me great pride to officially be a member of RIT Croatia’s Alumni Association. Although life may lead each and every one of us on different paths, it has truly been an honor to be apart of RIT Croatia’s Class of 2018!
About RIT Croatia
RIT Croatia (formerly known as ACMT) is a global campus of a prominent US university Rochester Institute of Technology. RIT Croatia has been delivering top American degree programs in Croatia since 1997. With its two campuses, in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, this is the only US college in the country and it is the only institution for higher education granting two diplomas to its students – an American diploma, awarded by RIT, and a Croatian diploma, awarded by RIT Croatia. RIT Croatia has prepared over 2,000 young people for their (global) careers. Today, they work in over 40 countries in the world – from the EU countries to Australia and the US, but also exotic locations such as Curacao. International students come from all over the world but most of them come from the US. Some come from the main campus in Rochester, but a lot of Americans come from Croatian Diaspora communities in cities such as San Jose, San Pedro, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York, Toronto, Mississauga, Cleveland, and many more. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Angela Madjer, a Chicago Gal & a RIT Croatia graduate